Cyberpunk 2077 Is A Violent, Impressive Blend Of Deus Ex And The Witcher 3

The next game from the makers of The Witcher 3 is looking impressive, and perhaps most importantly, it looks like a real video game. A 50-minute behind-closed-doors E3 demo of Cyberpunk 2077 showed attendees proper gameplay, played live, that appeared like something we might actually see in the next year or two.

Here's the short version: Cyberpunk 2077 is a lot like Deus Ex, with what looks like less stealth but better shooting. There's a lot of violence. There are branching quests with multiple choices, like The Witcher 3, and there's a driving system that seems a whole lot like Grand Theft Auto.

The demo was impressive, hinting at typically dystopian themes, a lot of player choice, and many, many different guns.

What's most striking is that it looks like a real game. Cyberpunk 2077 isn't shockingly pretty or full of astounding pre-rendered graphics - it looks like a video game built to run on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with an impressive, humongous world that may live up to the bar set by Velen and Skellige.

CD Projekt Red won't commit to a release year - which is smart, until they're absolutely sure - but for a game that was teased in 2013 and has been MIA until now, they showed quite a bit. Put another way: This isn't Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person shooting role-playing game that feels very different from CD Projekt Red's last game. It's full of gritty slang, futuristic technology and diverse characters.

The whole game takes place in Night City, a fictional city in the "free state of North California" within Cyberpunk's world, and there are six different districts: The sprawling City Center, the corporate dystopia Watson, the luxurious Westbrook, the suburban Heywood, the gang-ridden Pacifica, and the industrial Santo Domingo.

The E3 demo started off with character creation - you get to decide whether to play as a male or female version of the main character, V. Both the male and female V are fully voiced, which sure must have been expensive. You also get to play around with an in-depth face creator, and assign V a background, a key life event, and a purpose for being in Night City. (Some examples: "Unfinished Business"/ "Ex-Lover In Town" / "Something to Prove".)

Then you choose which stats to pump up: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Reflexes, Tech and, uh, Cool. (This appears to be unironic.) There are classes, but you don't pick just one. Your character can blend skills and traits from all three: Netrunner, Techie and Solo.

The demo started off with a sequence in which V, working alongside her meaty companion Jackie Welles, goes into a gang-infested apartment to rescue a kidnapped girl.

It plays out a lot like Deus Ex, minus the stealth, and with what appears to be more interesting gunplay. There's plenty of shooting, covering and lingo-infested dialogue. ("Eddies", for example, is slang for "European dollars", this world's currency.)

Once the mission ends - after you've taken out the gang and carried a naked, nearly dead woman to a team of trauma rescuers - we cut to V's apartment, where Cyberpunk 2077 reminds us that it's equally gratuitous to both men and women by showing us a carefully rendered naked male butt.

Then V gets a prestigious invite, to the car of a major "fixer" named Dexter DeShawn. This is a big deal. V is stoked.

DeShawn gives her a proposition - if she passes his test, getting a special spider-robot from a group of thieves, he'll recruit her as one of the many mercenaries he sends out on missions throughout Night City.

That's the demo's big quest, finding a way to get the spider-robot. As a CD Projekt Red developer explained, there are several ways to do this.

The path we saw first involved V going to a Ripperdoc, Victor, who gives her upgrades such as an optical scanner and a new weapon grip. Then she takes Jackie's car for a ride, which will play a big part in Cyberpunk 2077.

"Driving is an essential way of getting around in Night City," said the developer.

You can toggle from first-person to third-person for driving - thank God! - and as you go around the city, CD Projekt Red says you'll run into random encounters. In this demo, those gang members from earlier came and chase down V's car, leading to an intense action sequence where Jackie takes the wheel from the passenger seat while the player has to shoot at enemies out the driver window.

Eventually V and Jackie get to a meeting with an agent belonging to a generic "Corporation" - one of Cyberpunk 2077's faceless evil organisations - and get into a tense encounter.

During each of these encounters, V is barraged with dialogue options. She can choose to be amicable or aggressive at just about every turn, and CD Projekt Red is promising many ambitious narrative choices and branches.

The agent offers V a great deal of money - which she'll be able to use to reclaim the spider-bot - if V will implant a chip in the thieves' computer terminal. In the demo, V says yes. CD Projekt Red says you'll also be able to say no, or run away with the money, or who knows what else.

Then we get to the main quest, a standoff between V and thugs belonging to a "psycho-gang" (so much lingo) called the Maelstrom. Long story short: That agent's chip was a trap, and it shuts down the Maelstrom's entire system, leading to a brutal shoot-out. V gets the spider-bot, then makes her way through the gang's complex, shooting enemies and snagging gear along the way.

It's all gorgeous, impressive, and looks like a lot of fun to play.

A few other notes:

  • The whole game is in first-person, and you can't switch to third-person, except for when you're driving. You'll see V in cut-scenes, though. She (or he) has a personality, although it's hard to tell how much of that will be pre-determined and how much will play out based on your decisions.
  • Gear is colour-coded based on rarity. Uncommon stuff is green, "Epic" stuff is purple, and so on. Seems as though there will be a ton of guns, each with its own ability.
  • The coolest gun we saw was one whose bullets auto-track their enemies. You don't even have to aim - you just fire it in a direction and it will hit people.
  • Other guns included a "Tech Blunderbuss" shotgun, a pistol and a smart rifle. There's very little stealth in Cyberpunk 2077, from what we saw, so shooting plays a huge part. Hard to tell how it feels just based on watching it.
  • V also has a set of weapons called Mantis Blades that she can use not just to hack enemies apart, but to cling to walls (!!!) so she can scope out the scene.
  • You'll also be able to get a double jump, among other abilities, and we saw some sort of technique that allows V to slow down time.
  • One of the game's core mechanics is called Street Cred, sort of like a currency that's both your reputation and your experience. Levelling up your Street Cred by questing will let you unlock new skills and missions.
  • During conversations, you'll sometimes have extra options on top of your dialogue tree. While facing one security guard, for example, you can try to grab his gun. In another scene, you can pull out your own gun instead of saying something.
  • CD Projekt Red is promising that Cyberpunk 2077, like The Witcher 3, will be full of branching scenes and bazillions of possibilities. After The Witcher 3, I have a whole lot of faith that they're telling the truth.


    I really want to know if there is a virtual reality part of the world, their cyber-punk internet like in William Gibson novels.

      Massive lover of The Sprawl trilogy here. I think the "cyberspace" Gibson envisaged (well before the internet as we know it) would be pretty tough to implement in a post-internet world without seemingly entirely too much like The Matrix. I'm with you, I hope they can incorporate as many of those classic themes as possible, but I'm not holding my breath. I just finished another read through of Neuromancer and am currently reading Count Zero.

        How fkn good are they right? I re-read that trilogy every couple of years.

          Oooh I might time a full trilogy re-read to end on the release date of Cyberpunk. Fraught with risk given how often dates shift, but that would be the perfect lead-up!

      I'm wondering about that too. I have a feeling they might not be able to squeeze in a detailed virtual world into a an already massive game.

      This leads me to another question, how is hacking supposed to work in this game? I really hope it's not a mini game thing, like the recent Deus Ex or Bioshock games. Those things really break the flow for me.

      For hacking, I would prefer if they did something like the old System Shock, where you're floating/flying and interacting in a simplistic virtual world. Maybe have it stylised.

    The unironic 'Cool' stat is a carry over from the original tabletop role-paying game and so is the Background story/Life event stuff. As a long time fan of this genre and specifically this world, these give me a lot more confidence that we'll be getting an authentic Pondsmith-Cyberpunk experience. Maybe I'll finally be seeing the game I've been waiting nearly 30 years for.

    Fingers crossed there's a mission that takes place at a Johnny Silverhand concert!

      I too love the authenticity of what I've read; so many things are just as the 2020 rule book states. Though the EuroDollar? What happened to the Eurobuck? You could nick name them Eubies... okay, Eddies and EuroDollar works.

      Probably worth pointing out that the CL stat in CP2020 is a measure of your ability to keep a cool head in rough situations, not a measure of how cool you are. I get the feeling the author might have been thinking of the latter.

      Johnny Silverhand would be in his 80s or even 90s in 2077. He may not still be touring.

        With the full body cyborg conversions available and the fact that his girlfriend managed to get uploaded to the net and is now an AI, I dunno, could be a good chance he's had a little work done.

    I'm just going to hope ever more that the classification board doesn't feel like we need extra protection from evil video games the day this is submitted to them.

      I will find a way to play this game regardless of the certification board. Certainly not for the kiddies though.

    I'm addicted to all sorts of futuristic visions and gadgets hopefully this is jam packed with goodies

      I think this will be a very high profile game for them to rate so it will interesting to see what they do. Luckily for us GOG will sell this DRM free so we can just VPN to another country and purchase an uncut version that way.

    Do the Mantis Blades look like those from the first trailer a couple of years ago--the one where the scantily clad woman with the blades extending from her forearms had killed everyone in a hundred yards and was about to take out the cybercops who had just arrived?

    Is it just me or does anyone else get the Ghost in the Shell vibe?

    After reading an article (I think it's either Eurogamer or Game Informer) I'm very worried our dipshit censor brigade might get its claws into this as it mentioned there were numerous drugs in the game (that's what the time slow mechanic comes from). I hope there is detrimental side effects to the substances to keep the fun police happy.

    A ha. Just spotted the article stating pretty much what I said above. Yay me...

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